The Dutch government has been urged by several political parties to ask civil service scheme ABP to sell its investment in the operator of two outdated Belgian nuclear power plants.
It concerns an investment by ABP in Engie, the operator of nuclear power plants at Tihange and Doel. The plants are outdated and have had to close a few times due to security incidents.
Dutch current affairs programme EenVandaag last year revealed that Dutch pension funds own shares in Engie worth tens of millions of euros. Besides ABP, these included industry-wide metal scheme PMT, healthcare scheme PFZW and BpfBouw, pension fund for the building trade.
During a Commons debate on nuclear safety, MPs focused their attention on the shares owned by ABP.
Sandra Beckerman, of socialist party SP, called it a good development that ABP planned to sell its investments in tobacco and nuclear weapons.
“It would be highly desirable if they would also stop investing in unsafe, outdated nuclear power plants,” she added. “They can use their shares as a means to apply pressure.”
Beckerman suggested that ABP could put the money to good use by investing it in more sustainable energy.
Frank Wassenaar, MP for Partij voor de Dieren (political party for animals), called on the government to exert pressure on ABP to sell its Engie stocks. Together with Beckerman and Liesbeth van Tongeren, MP for green party GroenLinks, he submitted a motion requesting this.
According to the government there was no need for it to put pressure on ABP, as the attention given to the matter in the House of Commons was already a clear signal to the pension fund.
State secretary for infrastructure and water management Stientje van Veldhoven advised against the motion, although she said she understood the “concerns and feelings of the Commons.”
She added that the exclusion of tobacco and nuclear weapons showed how ABP acknowledged “the unrest that exists among the people”.
Regarding the Belgian nuclear power plants, the pension fund weighed up its influence as a critical investor, Van Veldhoven said, adding: “If you are no longer a shareholder you will also lose your influence.”
During the vote on Wednesday the motion was postponed.